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Archive for Saturday, March 30, 2002

University reaps dividends from KU’s Final Four run

March 30, 2002

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A Final Four appearance may bring more than a trophy to Kansas University.

University officials say the national exposure also helps recruiting and fund-raising efforts.

"We're in the limelight, and it makes people feel good about the university," said John Scarffe, a spokesman for the Kansas University Endowment Association.

It may be a coincidence, but giving to the Endowment Association has spiked when KU has made the Final Four. In 1988, the year KU won the national championship, giving increased 42 percent. Donations were up about 19 percent each in 1991 and 1993, when the Jayhawks reached the Final Four.

Scarffe points out that other factors such as fund-raising campaigns and the economy make it hard to draw a surefire connection between basketball and donations.

In 1988, the Endowment Association announced its Campaign Kansas two months after KU won the national championship. Danny Manning was part of the announcement festivities.

Scarffe said the timing again is good for the national exposure, because his organization kicked off a $500 million campaign "KU First" last fall.

"They're feeling quite a bit of pride about their institution, and donors like to give to successful enterprises," he said. "It wouldn't work for us to say, 'We won a national championship, give us money.' It's more subtle about making people feel good about the university."

The basketball publicity has meant more phone calls at the Office of Admissions and Scholarships, said Lisa Pinamonti, who becomes the office's interim director next week.

On Monday, the day after KU defeated Oregon to reach the Final Four, the office fielded 60 phone calls between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., mostly from high schoolers wanting to schedule campus visits. That's about three times the normal call volume.

Pinamonti said most of the students who called this week were high school seniors who were still trying to decide where to attend this fall.

She said recruiters don't talk to students much about basketball during campus visits. Students already know about the Jayhawk tradition.

"It just provides excitement and they want to be a part of it," she said.

And if the basketball team takes the next step a national championship the interest would increase even more, Pinamonti said.

"It definitely can't hurt," she said. "We know that."

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